Adventures in E-reading

I’ll admit it: I’m a PC user…as in a Pragmatic Computer-user. I’m also a PEA, as in Post-Early Adopter. Meaning, I’m rarely the first one out of the gate on the newest gizmo. For example, you’ll never find me standing in the line at Best Buy at 3am waiting for the doors to open for Day 1 sales of the newest gadget.

However, I do love my tech and, thus, my PEAbrain frequently compels me to try the new software or purchase a copy of that newest gadget anywhere from a week to six months later.

Amazon's KindleAnd, so, it was with interest when I read a recent article in the New York Times about Best Buy and Verizon Jump[ing] Into E-Reader Fray.” In particular, two early quotes in the article leaped out at me:

“By all accounts, e-readers are set to have a breakout year. Slightly more than one million of them were sold globally in 2008, according to the market research firm iSuppli. The firm predicts that 5.2 million will be sold this year, more than half of them in North America, driven by the popularity and promotion of the Kindle, which is available only through Amazon’s Web site.”


One challenge for the entire digital reading market is the price of these new devices. A recent report from Forrester Research suggests most consumers will buy a digital reading device only when they cost less than $100.

No kidding!

However, I’d add a few personal observations from having purchased (and returned) the Kindle DX. The response time is slow (screen refresh, navigation, etc.), the plain black & white display is dreary, the lack of graphics is sad, and the built-in browser is horribly difficult to use.

Sure, all of the cool things you’ve heard or read about the Kindle are there as well: e-ink technology provides a really read-able display in just about any lighting situation (full sun outdoors to low lighting indoors), the wireless download of reading material is cool (although you have to take care not to accidentally purchase a book you didn’t intend to order…I did and it was impossible to get a refund), and the Kindle form factor is super-sleek.

Unfortunately, after 30 days, the coolest thing my family and I were unanimous about regarding our DX was the lovely, intricate drawings of various great classics authors that the display left on the screen when it was in sleep state. In fact, we got a little wire picture/plate holder and set our Kindle in it when it wasn’t being used – which was most of the time – so it could add a little artistic accent to our breakfast table.

But, for the several hundred dollar price, I could get a lot of Kodak e-picture frames!

All that said, I remain an Amazon fan and customer and, true to their word, the return process of the Kindle DX was mostly effortless, with the purchase price credited in full. Thank you, Amazon.

For my money (meaning “free” download), the Kindle reader app on my iPhone does the job just fine with the little bit of content I purchased while I had the DX. (Plus, I can read the books in sepia tone if I want!)

So, take it from this PEAbrained, PC user, if you have been thinking about it, but haven’t yet purchased a Kindle or a comparable book reader, think really hard about how much you would use it versus all of the other alternative forms of reading you have that are either free (like books from your public library) or more convenient, like using your smart phone, laptop, or that new Net book you may have just bought.

Speaking of which, next time I’ll share my Net book experience. Meanwhile, let me hear from you E-book users!